Pregnant with my son, I would read about breastfeeding but when I would get to the struggles and challenges mamas faced I would never finish. It was too heartbreaking already to face the fact that no matter how much I prepared to be the mama I hoped to be, there was always a chance something unexpected could happen with breastfeeding. I did my best to know about the most common challenges, like watching for different varies of tongue-tie, inverted nipples, delayed milk coming in, etc. But at some point, I had to just let go and reiterate to my husband how important it was for me to breastfeed our son, no matter what that looked like for us.
I know every parent’s breastfeeding story is different, and you must do what you feel is going to be best for you and your child.
Top 5 things you always need to Successfully Breastfeed
1) Hydrate: Drink water, then some more water. Staying hydrated is very important while breastfeeding to ensure your body does not get worn down; you drink when baby drinks. According to breastfeeding.about.com, about 6 to 8 glasses of water daily is best while breastfeeding baby full-time. You do not need to drink beyond thirst, but because we are so busy as moms we forget to listen to our bodies when it needs something.
For me, in the beginning, I would always have those beautifully oversized, hospital water mugs in my hand. Nowadays I have a Camelbak permanently attached to me like a shadow. I try to drink at least three, if not four of them a day, with each glass-fill being 750ml. For me, that amount feels the best. Drink one in the morning, one early afternoon, one with dinner, and fill one when going to bed (I don’t always finish this last one).
2) Self-care: Make sure you are taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep (yes, I realize how funny that reads) and eating right and enough for you to be healthy. Try to sleep when baby is sleeping and make sure you’re getting somewhat of a reasonable night’s rest. Remember, babies are only tiny temporarily so this too shall pass. Although it is most commonly recommended that a breastfeeding mama get an extra 500 calories a day, now specialist are starting to realize this varies for every individual (leLecheLegueInternational.org). It’s not so much the exact count of calories that a breastfeeding mama is getting as it is the right amount of vitamins and nutrients her body needs to continue to produce enough energy for herself and milk for her baby. Having a well-balanced diet for your individual body is key.
3) Support: Does your partner, family, friends, and work environment support your parenting right and decision? It is really important that everyone around you knows that breastfeeding is important to you, and that they need to support you in making that decision for you and your baby. It is best that everyone knows the only attitude to have should be positive and ask how they can help make it easier on you to breastfeed.
You do not need negative attitudes around you to mention quiting because it’s hard; the beginning has challenges but it’s more difficult when people around you aren’t being positive and supportive. Most of all, having a supportive partner who is on the same page as you is key. For me, having my husband be supportive and positive on some of those tough, sleepless nights in the beginning really helped boost my confidence and remind me why I could not give up.
4) Help: Do not be afraid to ask for help. If you are feeling lost and have tried everything but breastfeeding is still not going well, don’t hesitate to see a lactation consultant. If you’ve done that but still feel something’s wrong, see a different one, see two different ones; see a pediatric specialist who focuses on tongue-tie and other over looked medical breastfeeding challenges. Always follow your gut, mama! Also, join local Le Leche Leagues and other private breastfeeding communities on Facebook; they are amazing!
5) Relax: Try to relax and give yourself a break. This, I would say is the hardest for me to do. It’s hard being a mom and although breastfeeding is the best thing to do for your babies, it is also very demanding on you and your body 24/7. So, try to set time each day or week aside for yourself to just breath, take a shower, read a book, go to the store ALONE, whatever you like to do for an hour or two. This is important for your emotional state, which affects your body and milk production. With more break through each day in the medical field on postpartum depression, we need to support new moms and ourselves the best way possible.
According to postpartumprogress.com, 1 in 4 women suffer from some form of PPD. That can lead to difficulties with breastfeeding and other postpartum goals.
A big part of life as a parent, you must do what’s best for you, your child and your family. However, when it comes to breastfeeding the best advice I can give you is never give up because you could be right there on the edge about to make it to the other side of victory.
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